Mutilating the Body: Identity in Blood and Ink

Mutilating the Body: Identity in Blood and Ink

Mutilating the Body: Identity in Blood and Ink

Mutilating the Body: Identity in Blood and Ink


"Mutilating the Body: Identity in Blood and Ink is an analysis of the different ways in which people use their bodies for self-expression that considers the significance of body modification and how different forms of body art and alteration serve individual and cultural needs. The book also addresses eating disorders, self-cutting, and ritualized consensual sadomasochism." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


What lies deepest of all in man is the skin.

—Paul Valery

My memories are fuzzy—I don't remember chronological sequence or how old I was. I think it started when I was about 13. I remember being out on the soccer field one day in gym class and looking at the cuts on my arm. Funny, in my memory it's a sunny day and I don't remember feeling any emotional anything really. Just wondering what people would say if they saw my cuts and then hoping they wouldn't ever see them. I think I was a sophomore at the time, but that wasn't the first cutting time. I remember once, maybe the very first time, being alone in someone's apartment. I searched the bathroom cabinet for razor blades, found some and made some tiny, tiny nicks on my wrist. Now that I write I think maybe this happened much much later, maybe while my father was in the hospital dying of cancer—one of the last times I cut myself as a teenager. As I nicked my wrist I said to myself, "This is a promise that someday I will love someone." Maybe what I really wanted was reassurance that someday someone would love me.

When I was 14 I had times of darkness. I remember kneeling by my bed with my hands over my face. I felt deaf, dumb, blind. I couldn't move for what seemed a very long time. Sometimes it was daytime and sometimes it was nighttime. I don't know if this happened right before cutting spells, but I know they are somehow related. in bad times still the physical memory of crouching on the floor, hot, sweating, paralyzed, returns.

When I cut the first time I was crazy with fury. My mother was angry with my father—so angry—so incredibly angry—and it was eating me up. I couldn't talk to her, couldn't tell her to shut up. I went to my room and saw a metal can tab on my table. I began scraping my skin, just scrapes, just pink, just raw, just bleeding a little. These marks made the multiple thin scars on my forearm. I kept that tab in a special place on my desk. It was there . . .

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